Near-infrared spectroscopy for intracoronary detection of lipid-rich plaques to understand atherosclerotic plaque biology in man and guide clinical therapy

D Erlinge
Journal of Internal Medicine 2015, 278 (2): 110-25
Ischaemic heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. The common denominator for plaques causing acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is lipid accumulation, either as a lipid core or lipid pools. An intracoronary imaging device to detect lipid-rich plaques (LRPs) could therefore identify most of the plaques causing ACS and sudden death. Near-infrared spectroscopy combined with intravascular ultrasound (NIRS-IVUS) is a promising new intracoronary imaging method that is able to specifically quantify lipid accumulation measured as the lipid core burden index (LCBI). NIRS-IVUS is highly specific for the identification of ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) culprit plaques usually in the form of a circular LRP. NIRS-IVUS may assist in defining the aetiology of coronary events. The effect of cholesterol-lowering therapy on the lipid core can be measured in coronary plaques in patients, and NIRS-IVUS may be a useful tool for drug development in phase II studies as a surrogate end-point for future ACS. Plaques with a high LCBI have an increased risk of peri-procedural events. NIRS-IVUS can help to define the diameter and length of stents to avoid procedure-related complications. Increased coronary LCBI predicts a higher risk of future cardiovascular events. Lipid core detection using NIRS may help to identify vulnerable plaques to treat them before they cause ACS or sudden death.

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